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In brief: Adult faces charge in teen runaway

A California woman who authorities say helped a 14-year-old Coeur d’Alene girl run away last week will be charged with second-degree kidnapping.

Coeur d’Alene police said they have obtained a warrant to arrest Lillie Alvarado, 45, after she traveled by train on March 1 to Spokane from Bakersfield, Calif., picked up Jaidyn Bendocchi, 14, near her home in Coeur d’Alene and bought her a train ticket back to Bakersfield.

Police believe Bendocchi met Alvarado’s 15-year-old son online and Alvarado wanted to help them be together.

Police Sgt. Christie Wood said Alvarado has not been taken into custody. Coeur d’Alene police are coordinating efforts with local authorities in Bakersfield. Wood said the warrant is extraditable.

Bendocchi was found at Alvarado’s home in Bakersfield on Tuesday.

The girl is still in the custody of Child Protective Services of California, and arrangements are being made for her return to Coeur d’Alene.

Suspect arrested in Valley shooting

A reputed gang member suspected in a shooting last month in Spokane Valley was arrested Thursday evening on Interstate 90.

A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy identified a vehicle in which Terrance Jones was thought to be and called for backup in apprehending him, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The vehicle was pulled over on westbound I-90 just east of the Broadway Avenue exit.

Jones, 26, was arrested without incident on a charge of first-degree assault. Other charges may be pending, the sheriff’s office said.

Another adult and child in the vehicle were not detained.

Two vehicles were involved in the shooting in the area of Evergreen Road and Indiana Avenue on Feb. 21. One vehicle stopped, and shots were fired from the other vehicle before it left the scene. One person was wounded.

Other agencies responded to the scene Thursday, including the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team, Washington State Patrol and Spokane police. The number of units involved slowed traffic for a short time on the freeway.

Man sentenced for stabbing dog

A man who broke into a home in November and stabbed a dog will spend almost two years in jail in a plea agreement approved Thursday.

Roger Lyn Mendenhall, 42, appeared before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza and pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and first-degree animal cruelty. The charge of first-degree armed burglary was dropped.

Prosecutor Anthony Hazel said Mendenhall was familiar with the residents of a home in the 2900 block of East Diamond Avenue when he entered it Nov. 28.

Mendenhall maintained he didn’t mean to hurt the dog and it was accidentally wounded by a knife he was holding when the dog jumped on him. The residents arrived and struggled with Mendenhall, restraining him until police arrived.

The dog was taken to an emergency pet clinic with critical injuries and survived.

Mendenhall made an Alford plea to the cruelty charge, meaning he doesn’t necessarily agree with the charge but believes he could be convicted at trial.

He told Cozza he went to the home because he had been staying there in the past and needed to get his belongings.

“They both know me,” he said. Mendenhall will spend 15 months in prison for assault and 12 months for animal cruelty.

Committee passes tribal land bill

BOISE – Legislation to clarify that land owned by tribal governments is exempt from property taxes just like land owned by other government entities got unanimous backing from an Idaho Senate committee on Thursday, despite last-minute opposition from Benewah County.

Benewah County Prosecutor Doug Payne told the committee, “The tribal government is not just a government, the tribal government is also a business – big business.” County Commissioner Phil Lampert said he believes the tribe has more than adequate resources to pay county property taxes.

The bill, HB 140, earlier cleared the House tax committee on a unanimous vote and passed 64-3 in the House. It now moves to the full Senate.

After the meeting, Payne said the prickly relations between his county and the tribe have improved. “I was actually surprised by this bill,” he said. “We’re working together better than we have in years.”

Committee OKs insurance exchange

BOISE – An Idaho House committee overwhelmingly approved the new state health insurance exchange bill Thursday, sending it to the full House for debate.

The measure, HB 248, combines legislation from Gov. Butch Otter that earlier passed the Senate with changes proposed by 16 House GOP freshmen calling for more legislative oversight.

All the North Idaho members on the House Health and Welfare Committee joined the 10-1 majority supporting the bill. “It’s between a federal exchange, that we have much less control and input, versus a state nonprofit exchange,” said Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden. “I think the changes made to the bill strengthen it.”

Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “We’re not going to take control of our sovereignty by rolling over and letting the federal government take control of our health care here in Idaho.”

Also backing the bill were Reps. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, and John Rusche, D-Lewiston.